Not everyone is happy with Waymo’s self-driving cars, report says

waymo orders thousands of chrysler pacifica minivans self driving car softens in pedestrian collison

Waymo’s test fleet of self-driving cars has covered more than 8 million miles on public roads, and the company is implementing ambitious plans to bulk up that fleet and launch a public ridesharing service in Arizona later this year. But Waymo’s autonomous-driving tech may not be ready for prime time, according to a new report.

The Information talked to Arizona residents who live in areas where Waymo tests its autonomous cars. They said the Waymo cars seem to have difficulty in certain traffic situations, such as making left turns across lanes with fast-moving traffic, and merging onto highways in heavy traffic. The cars also stop and brake abruptly, according to the report.

“As the only company with a fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads, our vehicles are continually learning and we’ve developed robust testing processes that will allow us to safely expand our vehicles’ driverless capabilities over time,” a Waymo spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNET. “Safety remains our highest priority as we test and deploy our technology.

Part of the problem seems to be that Waymo’s self-driving cars are more cautious than the human drivers they share the road with. The cars stop for a full three seconds at every stop sign, and try to maintain a wide berth by making turns. Anyone who has spent time behind the wheel knows that most human drivers aren’t so conservative.

Just as cautious self-driving cars cause frustration for human drivers, humans’ unpredictability can flummox Waymo’s cars, according to The Information. Autonomous cars are programmed to follow the rules of the road, but they don’t always know what to do when other road users break those rules. It’s a problem also experienced by other companies testing prototype self-driving cars in California, but it will have to be solved. A car that only works if everyone and everything follows the rules will be pretty much useless in the real world.

It’s also worth noting that Arizona is a best-case scenario for self-driving car testing. Consistently clear weather means Waymo doesn’t have to worry about snow or rain interfering with cars’ sensors. Waymo has also meticulously mapped all of the areas where its self-driving cars operate. Repeating that process for every part of the country will be extremely labor intensive, slowing the deployment of self-driving cars elsewhere.

Waymo’s current fleet of self-driving cars are prototypes, and its technology could improve over time. But it’s unclear how long that will take, and Waymo is pushing to launch an autonomous ridesharing service in Arizona later this year. For now, Arizona residents may just have to get used to waiting longer at stop signs.

Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way, but not far enough

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

Peloton’s tech lets truckers play follow the leader to boost fuel economy

Peloton Technology can help semi trucks save fuel by running close together on the highway. Using short-range wireless communications, the trucks get a kind of super cruise control.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.